A considerable chunk of Australia’s population comprises of those who are in their golden years. According to a body of recent statistics from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, as many as 1 in 7 Australian citizens was noted to be 65 years of age or older. Life expectancy is also on the upswing, as both male and female Australian senior citizens aged 65 years old are expected to live at least another 20 years.
Despite these happy projections, however, the elderly face a number of difficult obstacles. Nearing their twilight years, it becomes painfully apparent to them that their physical fitness, mobility, mental sharpness, and immunity are on the downturn. Their foremost challenge then becomes to avoid harm, overexertion, and exposure to illness when they are at their most vulnerable—in order to reach an even riper old age in peace and prosperity.
As the elderly age, a new caregiving dynamic also comes into play: the children the elders once looked after become mature as well and assume new roles of guardianship over them. If this is your current situation with a parent or grandparent you love dearly, then you must be well on your way to keeping their endeavours safe and comfortable. You may have begun your preps by enlisting in a first aid training course in Melbourne or in your home county to learn about emergency intervention. You may have also looked into adding new safety features to your home. And these are all excellent precedents to take on in supplying proper care for your elderly loved ones.
Beyond these measures, what else can you do for the elderly? Part of the answer may be in pre-empting the circumstances in which they get hurt. Some of the most common instances of injury among the elderly are slips and falls, sprains and fractures, burns and scalds, and driving accidents. For more information on why they transpire, and what you can do to avoid them, read the survey below.
Slips and Falls
Why They Happen: The elderly have limited mobility and accuracy of movement as compared to before. This makes them susceptible to painful missteps on wet or slippery floors or bad falls if they miss a step while on their way down. The most common sites for harmful slips and falls are bathroom floors and staircases. Injuries can range from bruises to broken bones.
How to Address Them: If you are expecting elderly visitors, do your best to help them navigate safely around your home. In this vein, you can provide them with canes and install non-slip bath mats in your bathrooms; in addition, you can enjoin those who are able-bodied in your household to escort your visitor between floors. If an elderly loved one will be spending a significant amount of time in your house, consider refurbishing the house with additional safety features like ramps or rails.
Sprains and Fractures
Why They Happen: Sprains and fractures are a more urgent threat amongst the elderly who are prone to suffering from weak joints and conditions like osteoporosis. Certain occasions of bone fracture, such as that of hip fracture, are particularly painful and difficult to recover from. If a senior citizen becomes immobile after such a fracture, the prolonged bedridden state can also lead to bed sores, sepsis, and/or pneumonia.
How to Address Them: Aside from giving senior citizens ready access to safety implements, it is important to help them watch their diet and supplement intake. Encourage them to consume food rich in vitamin D and calcium to strengthen their bones and to avoid unhealthy substances like alcohol, excessively fatty food, and nicotine.
Burns and Scalds
Why They Happen: As their response can slow down with age, senior citizens may no longer find it easy to cook food. There is the chance of knocking over hot liquid from a bowl or mug or accidentally brushing one’s bare skin against the surface of a pot. Scalds and burns are dangerous to the elderly as they can cause damage to their already-sensitive skin. It is also harder for them to recover in case the burn fosters infection.
How to Address Them: If you can help it, supervise your elderly visitor or loved one in the kitchen. Volunteer to help regulate heat-based appliances, serve soup, or pour coffee or tea. Better yet, you can post reminders in the kitchen area pertaining to switching appliances on and off and not leaving hot drinks exposed where they may be spilled easily.
Why They Happen: Conditions like poorer visual acuity, poorer motor coordination, limited mobility in the neck and shoulder area, or dementia can affect an elderly person’s driving. If the onset of any of these is apparent, then the elderly driver is more at risk of being injured on the road. Aside from the elderly driver, other people may get hurt as well in the event of an accident.
How to Address Them: To know if your loved one can still drive to the best of their ability, you can have a formal assessment of driving ability conducted on them by an occupational therapist. If they are no longer cleared to drive, then be proactive in helping them find safe and adequate transportation. You can drive for them or accompany them through public transport.
“Better safe than sorry” is an adage that applies when caring for Australian elderly. For better or worse, your elderly loved ones must go about their daily lives whilst confronting their physical limitations. Take these steps to clear the path for them, empower them to move forward, and live out the rest of their days in comfort and contentment.
*This article is for informational purposes only and does constitute, replace, or qualify as RPL for our first aid training courses.